Democrats and Republicans find each other scary and cold, survey says


Talking heads speak a lot about how "polarized" Americans are – conservatives are becoming even more conservative, liberals are becoming more liberal, and the centrist no-man's land between them is widening.

But is it true? Are we really getting more stuck in our political corners and less willing to meet in the middle?

Yes, actually, according to a new survey.

The latest sign of our growing political distrust of each other comes from Pew Research Center, which this week found that an American's view of the opposing party is more negative than at any point in the past 25 years.

Give me the skinny

Long story short, Democrats' view of the Republican Party is getting more negative, and Republicans' view of the Democratic Party is getting more negative.

The Pew survey – which is nationally representative, and done in late March/early April via email and regular mail – asked 4,385 respondents about their own political beliefs, and then their perceptions of the parties.

And for the first time in 24 years, when these surveys started, large numbers of both parties (about half) say the opposing party actually makes them "afraid."

See the chart at right for more.

They also asked respondents to rate how much they liked people and parties on a cold/warm scale – a 0 being very cold, which is negative; and 100 being very warm, which is positive.

Republicans rated Democrats a 29, so pretty cold. And put Hillary Clinton at a 12.

Democrats meanwhile rated Republicans at 31. Donald Trump scored an 11.

The chart at the left has details.

These "very unfavorable" view are the highest they've been since 1992 – that's Bill Clinton vs George H.W. Bush vs Ross Perot.

Meanwhile, a growing divide has been reflected in who gets elected to the U.S. House.

Vote View has kept track of it using what they call a DW-NOMINATE dimension (a way to track how liberal or conservative lawmakers are.)

The ideological stances, based on their score, have been widening since about 1980.

Maybe we need to just be friends

And we mean that literally.

The study found that people with few or no close friends from the other party generally found that party colder. This was more pronounced for Republicans, but still notable for Democrats.

So for example, of the Republicans with few or no Democrats for friends, 62 percent found the Democratic Party to be very cold. Whereas if you look at Republicans with some Democrat friends, only 30 percent found the Democratic Party to be very cold.

The numbers were similar for Democrats: 49 percent if they had few or no Republican friends, and 31 percent if they had some Republican friends.

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